Furthermore, the basic components of the western, like fundamental musical elements, can seem comfortably stable, even as the demands of sheer novelty and aesthetic innovation encourage stylistic changes in response to shifting social contexts and cultural tastes. Thus, critics of the film western simultaneously emphasize its continuity as a narrative or mythic form repeating familiar elements while tracing the genre’s historical development from classic examples towards self-critical revision. Aficionados of popular musical forms such as the blues or jazz engage in similar forms of subtle negotiation, taking pleasure in reassuring continuity and tradition while excited by challenging alteration and experimentation. In addition to the larger analogy of genres to musical forms, the role of music itself within the western can concretely demonstrate the regular, creative tension between stability and change characterizing the genre overall. While links might be drawn between the musical scores composed for westerns across the genre’s entire history, at a moment in the 1950s-a decade considered one of the genre’s artistic and cultural high points-the otherwise stable soundtracks of westerns suddenly allowed for a significant variation. This chapter focuses on that prominent but neglected period in the musical history of the western, when sung title songs became a prominent feature of the genre. While the western had previously and typically employed instrumental theme songs, the new practice of including title songs with evocative lyrics immediately established itself as a common element of the genre, functioning in effect as an invented tradition without obvious precedent.2